Saturday, May 24, 2008

Poverty Still Exists Where Royals Monopolize Power

This weekend marked the 75th anniversary of Saudi Arabian oil out-put. The NY Times ran a Reuters article.

There’s a strange sort of lack of perspective in the piece – as, I suppose, there is a strange sort of lack of perspective in the whole view of the Middle East. As if when we are watching another it is impossible to see ourselves…

The end of the article says, “Poverty still exists in a country where the royals, who monopolize power, include some of the richest men in the world.”

Last month a NY Times article said that officials expect over 30,000 people to have their heat shut off in the North West this winter. “After struggling with soaring heating costs through the winter, millions of Americans are behind on electric and gas bills, and a record number of families could face energy shut-offs over the next two months, according to state energy officials and utilities around the country.”

Saudi Arabia Celebrates 75 Years Of Oil

King Abdullah watched dancing children and listened to actors and government executives narrating how oil transformed the desert and predicted it would do so for another 75 years.

Now the world's top oil exporter, the Gulf Arab state provides over a tenth of oil supplies and is raking in windfall revenues as prices reach new highs. U.S. crude hit a fresh record of $130 a barrel on Wednesday.

"Oil made us leap to the 21st century from a way of life reminiscent of the 15th century," one royal told Reuters at the celebrations.

The festivities were held in a purpose-built dome raised around the well that first tapped commercial quantities of Saudi oil, now called the "prosperity well."

On display was the original copy of the first oil concession Riyadh signed with U.S. firm Standard Oil of California in 1933, heralding a search that had prolific results. The kingdom holds a fifth of global oil reserves.

Since then, oil has been at the centre of a web of diplomatic, economic, political and security interests that bind Saudi Arabia to the United States.

The History of Standard Oil

ONE of the busiest corners of the globe at the opening of the year 1872 was a strip of Northwestern Pennsylvania, not over fifty miles long, known the world over as the Oil Regions. Twelve years before this strip of land had been but little better than a wilderness; As chief inhabitants the lumbermen, who every season cut great swaths of primeval Pine and hemlock from its hills, and in the spring floated them down the Allegheny River to Pittsburg. The great tides of Western emigration had shunned the spot for years as too rugged and unfriendly for settlement, and yet in twelve years this region avoided by men had been transformed into a bustling trade centre, where towns elbowed each other for place, into which three great trunk railroads had built branches, and every foot of whose soil was fought for by capitalists. It was the discovery and development of a new raw product, petroleum, which had made this change from wilderness to market-place. This product in twelve years had not only peopled a waste place of the earth, it had revolutionised the world's methods of illumination and added millions upon millions of dollars to the wealth of the United States. Petroleum as a curiosity, and indeed in a small way as an article of commerce, was no new thing when its discovery in quantities called the attention of the world to this corner of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

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